Easy Roasted Cajun Chicken With Hearty Veg

Serves 2

What’s easier than a one-tray bake?

For busy mums who want to avoid slaving at the stove (more time for baby!), here’s a hearty recipe that allows you to chuck the tray into your oven and go play with your baby. I serve the first half for baby’s lunch and keep the second portion for his dinner either in a Thermos food jar, or in the fridge to be reheated.

Since cooking for baby involves no salt or sugar, adding spices and lemon will ramp up the flavours and make your tastebuds ZING!

No chilli involved!

Ingredients
2 chicken drumsticks (preferably free range or Sakura chicken or probiotic-fed)
2 small purple sweet potatoes (red or Japanese is fine)
One small potato
Half a small eggplant
Florets of broccoli
3 cloves of garlic, lightly bashed
1 onion, quartered
Half a lemon
Virgin coconut oil or light olive oil

Spices
Paprika
Basil or oregano, dried or fresh
Thyme, dried or fresh
Turmeric powder

Method
Wash, peel and cut all the potatoes into cubes or a size your baby can handle. In a baking tray, add the onion,  garlic, eggplant and broccoli, then lay the chicken drumsticks on top, with skin on.

Toss everything with a drizzle of oil, and coat well. Then add the spices.

Tip: You can be generous with paprika, basil and thyme, but go easy on the turmeric. It’s bitter. But it lends a lovely warm colour to this dish, and depth of flavour. Also, turmeric is healthy and has anti-inflammatory properties.

Zest half a lemon onto the chicken, and squeeze some of the juice onto the meat. Rub the oil, spice, and lemon mixture into the chicken with your hands.

Now, remove the eggplant and broccoli from the tray and set aside.

Then rearrange all the veg into a single layer to cook evenly, and let the chicken sit on top.

Tip: If you have time, let the marinade sit on the chicken and veg for a while. If you don’t have time, it doesn’t matter. It will still taste good, which is the beauty of this one tray bake.

Chuck the tray into the oven for 45min. Turn the chicken halfway through the cooking time. If the veg looks dry or it’s burning up, add a splash of water. Cool or hot water is fine. I like my veg moist (as opposed to crispy on the outside) so I always add water halfway through the cooking time. This is a nice little tip from Jamie Oliver.

Add the eggplant and broccoli back to the tray for the last 10min of cooking. It takes less time for these veg to cook, so you don’t want to burn them.

I disovered this wonderful (and easy) way of cooking broccoli by trying it out. I used to steam broccoli all the time. Baking broccoli makes it taste like the Mediterranean way of grilling veg; it’s beautiful.

When the meal is done in the oven, stab the chicken with a fork and check if the juices run clear. If so, the chicken is cooked. If the juices are pink, chuck it back into the oven for 5 min more.

Tip: But if you need to cook the chicken further, don’t forget to remove the broccoli and eggplant from the tray first – cos 10min of cooking is about all they can bear!

When done, leave the tray of food to cool.

Tip: This also allows the chicken to rest – this means you give the meat time to re-absorb the juices and makes for tender, juicy meat. Otherwise when you bite or cut into the meat, most of the juices will flow out.

Sili Squeeze reusable food pouch for mess-free self-feeding: Babies, tots, kids [Giveaway+Review]

I’m always on the lookout for things that would make going out easy.

Alright, easier.

The Sili Squeeze promises mess-free self-feeding for babies, and also a healthy snack option for older kids. Yummy veg and fruit smoothies on a hot day!

So you don’t have to buy expensive ready-made food pouches – now you can make your own healthy, snacks or meals to go.

Founded by a mum in US, The Sili Company makes two versions: The original Sili Squeeze that’s spill-proof, and the newer Sili Squeeze with Eeze that’s free-flow. And each version comes in three sizes: 2oz (60ml), 4oz (120ml), and 6oz (180ml) – and four colours.

I found the Sili Squeeze after trawling through reviews of all kinds of food pouches. See this for a quick overview of the types of food pouches in the market.

The good people at Prettymums.com sent me both the spill-proof Sili Squeeze ($27.90) and free-flow Sili Squeeze with Eeze ($29.90) versions in size 180ml (60z) to review. Here’s the low-down.

What I like about the Sili:

1) Non-toxic material. Silicone is better than BPA-free plastic, because even BPA-free plastic can degrade and leach chemicals.

2) Can stand on its own, much like a bottle – no single-handed fumbling when I’m pouring a smoothie into the squeeze pouch. Most food pouches can’t do this.

3) Wide opening for ease of pouring. Sili Squeeze functions just like a bottle, so you just need a funnel to pour your smoothie in. Some food pouches have fumbly ziplock closures at the base, which sounds like a disaster waiting to happen, especially with repeated use.

4) Easy to clean, disassemble and assemble. No fiddly parts or hard-to-reach nooks and crannies that could grow mould.

Things to watch out for:

1) The Sili Squeeze and the Sili Squeeze with Eeze have different spouts. The original spill-proof version is great for mess-free self feeding, but it could take your child some time to master getting anything out of the pouch.

2) From what I’ve observed of Lil Pea – and I’ve even tried it myself – you need to combine sucking and gnawing to release the leak-proof opening of the spout. I wouldn’t complain about it, because you get what you ask for – it’s leak-proof, which means liquids don’t get out so easily.

3) Lil Pea got the hang of it after a while. But take note that it’s better to use the original spill-proof Sili Squeeze for thinner smoothies or purees which are more liquid.

4) For thicker breakfast smoothies – with chunky ingredients like oats, for example – use the free-flow Sili Squeeze with Eeze. It’s targeted at older kids who want a healthy, easy snack on the go. But if you want to use this with a younger baby, the little one will need help from you. Otherwise you will have a squirting good time (cleaning up) during breakfast!

Tip: To keep your smoothie cold on a day out – freeze a smoothie in your Sili Squeeze and chuck it into the freezer overnight.

Take it out just before going out with your child, and it will thaw nicely in a few hours into a yummy, cold smoothie. Works the same if you want to use the Sili for a pureed meal for baby; just warm it up in hot water before serving it to baby.

Recipes

Here are some recipes I whipped up for Lil Pea; really quick and easy.

 

Avocado and Berry Breakfast Smoothie

Fills one 6 oz. Sili Squeeze (more suitable for Sili Squeeze with Eeze)

80ml plain Greek yogurt or milk or formula

2 Tbsp instant oats, stirred into 20ml hot water

Half a ripe avocado

4 strawberries

Put everything into a blender and blend well till you get a smooth consistency – about 20 seconds. Add a sprig of mint before blending for a nice, refreshing zing.

 

Avocado and Banana Blast

Fills one 6 oz. Sili Squeeze (suitable for both spill-proof and free-flow)

100ml plain Greek yogurt or milk or formula

Half a ripe avocado

Half a banana

Mash the avocado and banana with a fork into the yogurt/milk and mix well. You can use your blender for smoother results; but mashing with a fork is fine, too. Add a dash of ground cinnamon and nutmeg before mixing, if you like, for adventurous taste buds.

Avocados are rich in folate (healthy cells and tissues) and potassium (metabolism and healthy bodily function) and are a good source of Vitamin K (clots blood). They are also full of Omega-3 and -6 goodness. Strawberries are chock-full of antioxidants. Bananas are creamy and give an energy boost, and Lil Pea looooves them. (“Nana! Nana! NANA!!!” he insists on having a banana every time he lays his eyes on one)

More yummy Sili Squeeze recipes here.

This is not a paid review, and the opinions here are entirely my own.

 

SILI SQUEEZE GIVEAWAY

Stardust&Bloom is giving away ONE Sili Squeeze original and ONE Sili Squeeze with Eeze. Click below to enter the contest, sponsored by Prettymums.com.

 

 

 

Oven-roasted Chicken with Curried Pumpkin [Recipe]

So I whipped up some lunch for Lil Pea, with spices and herbs he likes. Yes, a custom job! And no, there isn’t chilli.

Just let me say this – this is YUMMY. Heh. #humblebrag

Using the oven and electric steamer are top choices for me, because it means I don’t have to slave at the stove. Who wants to do that when there are diapers that need changing and little boys who need dancing?! Chuck it in to cook and literally forget about it.

I use fusili that’s made of brown rice and quinoa from iHerb for a more nutritious and gluten-free option. My organic spices and herbs are from the same place. (You can save $5-$10 off your first order from iherb by using this promo code LGF536 at checkout. Shipping to Singapore is only $4 up to 6.3kg. Worst kept secret in Sg, I gather!)  Continue reading

Age guide to introducing solids

 

Whether you’re doing BLW Baby Led Weaning or the usual purée route, you will find this age guide for solids introduction amazingly useful.

I have this on my fridge and ticked off every new food I introduced to Lil Pea.

It also helped to keep track of any allergies (we found out he’s allergic to cow’s milk).

Age guide to introducing solids

What’s good about this’s particular chart is that it’s easy to use, laid out nicely, and takes a more prudent approach (later, rather than earlier for some possibly allergenic foods).

Also, it’s cross-referenced to well-known sources (see bottom of chart for sources).

This chart I pinned to my Pinterest board keeps getting re-pinned; no doubt other parents find it useful too!

You can follow my weaning and solid foods Pinterest boards here:

 

Age guide source: www.design-kat.com